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Friday, October 23, 2009
Hunting Moon and NIEA Pow-Wow's combined in Milwaukee
1st Hunting Moon Pow-Wow held at Potawatomi Bingo Casino grounds, and combined with the 40Th Annual National Indian Education Association traditional Convention Pow-Wow
By H. Nelson Goodson
October 23, 2009
Updated October 25, 2009
Milwaukee - On Friday, more than several thousand people gathered to celebrate Native American culture and traditions at the 5Th Annual Hunting Moon Pow-Wow sponsored by the Forest County Potawatomi Community. The three day event competition opened at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 Canal St. in Milwaukee with a Grand Entry at 6:00 p.m. and then proceeded with a Pow-Wow featuring dancers and drums. The dancers and drummers compete for cash prizes for different categories totaling more than $95,000. First place drum group winners are awarded $8,000. Exhibitors during the pow-wow sold Native American jewelry, crafts, and ethnic foods.
The event opened its doors at 10:00 a.m., with Grand Entries at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. On Sunday, the doors open at 10:00 a.m., with a Grand Entry at noon, and the pow-wow lasted until 6:30 p.m.
Last Friday's pow-wow, both the Hunting Moon Pow-Wow and the 40Th Annual National Indian Education Association (NIEA) traditional Convention Pow-Wow were combined. NIEA was holding their three day convention at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee from October 22-25, 2009. The National Indian Education Association is the oldest and largest Indian education association representing American Indian, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian educators and students. The theme for the 2009 convention was 'Shaping Our Future Wisdom Keepers.' There were at least 562 federally recognized Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Tribes in the United States participating during the NIEA convention, according to organizers. NIEA will be lead by Patricia Whitefoot this year (Oct. 2009-Oct. 2010), and Mary Jane Oatman Wak-Wak from Idaho will be the NIEA President-Elect. Renee C. Holt, Quinton Roman Nose and Star Oosahwe Yellowfish will be on the NIEA board from 2009-2012, according to NIEA Facebook link posting.
On Sunday, David Gutierrez, 49, dressed as an Aztec Indian celebrating the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)joined the Hunting Moon Pow-Wow. Gutierrez is a member of the Avila Dance Academy located in the South side of Milwaukee where the predominately Latino community resides.
The Potawatomi Bingo Casino website explains that a pow-wow is normally set up as a series of large circles. The center circle is the dance arena, outside of which is a circle consisting of the MC's table, drum groups and sitting areas for dancers and their families. At outdoor pow-wows, this circle is often covered by either a committee built arbor or each group will provide their own sun shade. Beyond these two circles is often an area for spectators, while outside of all are several rings of vendor's booths, where one can buy supplies, food, or arts and crafts.
The master of ceremonies, or MC, is the voice of the pow-wow. It is his job to keep the singers, dancers and general public informed as to what is happening. The MC sets the schedule of events and maintains the drum rotation (or order of when each drum group gets to sing). The MC is also responsible for filling any dead air time that may occur during the pow-wow, often with jokes. The MC often runs any raffles or other contests that may happen during the pow-wow, too.
A pow-wow session begins with the Grand Entry, during which all the dancers line up by dance style and age. They then enter the arena while the host drum sings a special song. Normally, the first in are veterans carrying flags and eagle staffs, followed by the head dancers, then the dancers follow in a specific order: Men's Traditional, Men's Grass Dance, Men's Fancy, Women's Traditional, Women's Jingle and Women's Fancy. Teens and small children then follow in the same order. Following the Grand Entry, the MC will invite a respected member of the community to give an invocation. The host drum that did not sing the Grand Entry song will then sing a Flag Song, followed by a Victory or Veterans' Song, during which the flags and staffs are posted at the MC's table.
Many of the various types of dances performed at a pow-wow are descended from the dances of the Plains tribes of Canada and the United States. Besides those for the opening and closing of a pow-wow session, the most common is the inter-tribal, where a drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance. Similar dances are the trot dance, called a crow hop when performed by a northern drum or a horse stealing song by a southern drum, and the round dance or side step. Each of these songs have a different step to be used during them, but are open for dancers of any style.
In addition to the open dances, contest dances for a particular style and age group are often held with the top winners receiving a cash prize. To compete in a contest the dancer must be dressed in Regalia appropriate for the competition.
Normal inter tribal dancing is an individual activity, but there are also couples and group dances. Couples dances include the two step—each couple follows the lead of the head dancers, forming a line behind them.
The Host Drum of the pow-wow is a drum group responsible for providing music for the dancers. At an inter tribal pow-wow generally two or more drums are hired to be the host drums, often a Host Northern Drum and a Host Southern Drum. Each drum has a Lead Singer who runs his drum and leads his singers while singing. Host drums are responsible for singing the songs at the beginning and end of a pow-wow session, generally a starting song, the grand entry song, a flag song, and a Veterans' or Victory Song to start the pow-wow and a flag song, retreat song and closing song to end the pow-wow. Additionally, if a pow-wow has gourd dancing, the Southern Host Drum is often the drum that sings all the gourd songs, though another drum can perform them. The host drums are often called upon to sing special songs during the pow-wow, according to Potawatomi Bingo and Casino website.